Twenty years ago, four young women studied in Avignon, France and spent their summer bonding at a magnificent French chateau in Provence. All these years later, they receive a special invitation to return to the chateau, sent by ninety-four-year-old Séraphine Demargelasse.
Séraphine feels her time is limited, and she is compelled to discuss her will and share long-hidden secrets with the group. And there are so many many secrets that inhabit Chateau du Platane — as well as the women’s lives. Séraphine is brutally murdered before she can reveal the past or disclose the grave reasons why she has asked the women to assemble at the chateau.
Darcy, Séraphine’s granddaughter, is in financial and marital distress. Jade is haunted by her father’s experiences in the Holocaust and the antisemitism she currently endures. Victoria (Vix) has survived breast cancer, but is forlorn about her breakup with her partner. Arabelle, a successful French chef and entrepreneur, is the granddaughter of Séraphine’s longtime friend and servant. These women, along with the seemingly inept groundskeeper, become the prime suspects in Séraphine’s murder.
Each chapter is narrated from one character’s point of view, revealing their motives and backstories. Some of the women had ties to one another before they studied together, but all of their lives have since taken many different courses. Duplicity, marital affairs, children, and careers have complicated and challenged their friendships and dynamics. They each harbor hidden agendas, long-festering deceits, jealousies, and doubts that play out in their present-day relationships.
Clue after artfully dropped clue move this murder mystery and drama through surprising twists and turns. French customs and sensibilities are woven into the story, and Goldis vividly captures the picturesque Provence towns, the countryside, the chateau, and the local art and cuisine. A harrowing Holocaust story of betrayal and the history of Van Gogh’s famous painting Starry Night add depth to the mystery, and nefarious Instagram posts from @imwatchingyou88 lend a contemporary and sinister component.
The Chateau is an engrossing whodunnit and a multilayered travelog. The reader won’t be able to stop guessing as they quickly turn the pages of this satisfying story.
Renita Last is a member of the Nassau Region of Hadassah’s Executive Board. She has coordinated the Film Forum Series for the Region and served as Programming and Health Coordinators and as a member of the Advocacy Committee.
She has volunteered as a docent at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County teaching the all- important lessons of the Holocaust and tolerance. A retired teacher of the Gifted and Talented, she loves participating in book clubs and writing projects.